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Volume 10 No. 22


LOCOG said that more than 100 countries "will take TV coverage of the Paralympics," according to Jacquelin Magnay of the London TELEGRAPH. Eleven new deals, including a contract with the European Broadcast Union, has resulted in a total of 36 separate broadcast contracts. Int'l Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven claimed the cumulative TV audience will tally "a record four billion worldwide," beating the figures of 3.8 billion from the '08 Beijing Paralympics. Channel 4's £9M ($14M) contract to broadcast the Games within the U.K. "was a record for the Paralympic movement." The Games also have "a Paralympic specific sponsor" in online grocery store Sainsbury's. The new contracts are for American markets of the U.S., Canada, South and Central America -- including Venezuela -- New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Ireland and Iran (TELEGRAPH, 8/27).

BIG SHOES TO FILL: In London, Ian Burrell reported that Channel 4's Paralympics coverage "may not match the BBC's 'Martini' Olympic output because of a lack of support from foreign broadcasters." Channel 4 CEO David Abraham promised that his channel would "provide the best coverage of any Paralympic Games to date." While 147 int'l networks contributed to the pooled Olympic Broadcasting Service coverage of the main games, just 16 are "taking part in televising the disabled competitors." Abraham said that Channel 4 would be "placing additional cameras at events to compensate for the limited contribution to coverage from other broadcasters." He "wasn't concerned that viewers might compare Channel 4's output -- which is being made by specialist sports broadcasters Sunset & Vine and IMG -- to the BBC's coverage." Abraham said, "We won't have as many streams and we don't think we need to do the kind of Martini coverage that the BBC did, but nonetheless it's going to be far closer to watching the coverage of the Olympics than it was watching the last Paralympics" (INDEPENDENT, 8/27).

GRAND OPENING: Also in London, Owen Gibson reported that 50,000 of the additional 70,000 tickets put on sale Sunday had been sold by Monday morning. Another 130,000 are expected to go on sale as "venue configurations are finalised." The Paralympics Opening Ceremony, directed by Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings, will feature more than 3,000 volunteers including 50 disabled performers "who have been learning circus skills from scratch." The performers will "come in earlier" than the Olympics Opening Ceremony and sit on the track to form part of the audience. LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said that the show, titled "Enlightenment," was "more thoughtful than the action-packed" first hour of Dir Danny Boyle's "rapturously received" Olympics Opening Ceremony (GUARDIAN, 8/27).

The BBC is considering a £20M ($31.6M) channel devoted to "lesser-known sports" following the success of the London Games, according to Mark Jefferies of the London DAILY MIRROR. BBC Head of Vision Roger Mosey, who oversaw coverage of the Olympics, said that bosses were now "looking at options for a full-time specialist sports channel." Referring to Head of BBC TV Sport Phillip Bernie, Mosey said, “Right now I would love to give Phillip £20M to go cover minority sports, but that has to be something the BBC works through.” He said that the BBC would be analyzing a report on the London Games. Talks about a sports channel or increased minority sports coverage is "likely to begin next month" when new BBC Dir General George Entwistle starts (DAILY MIRROR, 8/27).

When al-Jazeera's new U.S.-based network beIN Sport acquired the rights to the U.S. men's national football team World Cup Qualifier away matches, it "messed up the market for everyone," according to a source cited by Jack Bell of the N.Y. TIMES. The source said that beIN "paid double the $18M fee GolTV had paid La Liga." The source said, "I think Traffic was looking for $500,000 a game." Brazil-based Traffic Sports Marketing President of Int'l Business Jochen Losch, whose company sold the World Cup qualifier rights to beIN Sport, said, "Are American fans really upset? That would be a big surprise to me. We offered the matches to everyone, but the amount of money we got offered was simply too low." Losch "would not confirm the sale price but did say that Traffic negotiated" with Soccer United Marketing and Major League Soccer on behalf of ESPN. A source said that SUM "dropped out of negotiations because of the high price (in excess of $1M)." Losch said, "I'm a little surprised to hear people moaning about beIN. Everyone should be happy because they want to build a real football channel. No channel in the U.S. thinks they have to pay money for U.S. games. They seem to think there is not a big appeal. If now they are complaining, maybe they underestimated the value." Meanwhile, Comcast on Friday announced it "had picked up" beIN Sport "at a premium in its sports entertainment package." The addition of Comcast "means the game at Jamaica on Sept. 7 could be available in a total of 54 million homes" when combined with distribution from Dish Network and DirecTV (N.Y. TIMES, 8/26).

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone's switching of F1 to pay-per-view this year with the Sky/BBC tie-up "should be viewed as a positive, despite the overall audience figures for some races going down," according to Jonathan Noble of AUTO SPORT. One year from the announcement that "left many spectators outraged," McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh said that there have been "a number of benefits that have materialised" from Sky's arrival in F1. Whitmarsh said, "My inbox is less choked now with emails from Mr. Outraged from Leamington Spa. We all felt a little bit upset that it happened -- although in fairness to Bernie, everyone blamed him, the sport, and me for it, but actually the decision, the choice, was the BBC's in the first place." The BBC and Sky have shared coverage of races this year, with half the races being broadcast exclusively on Sky and the other half being shown on both channels. Recently published audience figures show that the race audience in the U.K. is "holding up." Some events like Australia, Malaysia and China are having "a greater combined audience" across both channels, while others like Spain, Monaco, Canada and Britain "are down" compared to '11 when races were all shown live on the BBC (AUTO SPORT, 8/27).

With coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games begining on Thursday, THE AUSTRALIAN's Amanda Meade sat down with ABC Broadcaster Stephanie Brantz to discuss the event. Below are some highlights of the interview.

Q: What does the Paralympics mean to you?
Brantz: The theme for the Australian Paralympic Team has been "Inspire," and that's what springs to mind when I think of the Paralympic Games. Men and women (and children, to be fair - our youngest athlete is 13 years old), who have overcome enormous hurdles and in some cases life-changing accidents to not only cope with whatever life throws at them, but also excel and impress in their chosen sport.

Q: What will your role be?
Brandtz: I will be hosting the Opening and Closing Ceremonies with Adam Hills and Beijing triple Gold Medalist Heath Francis.

Q: What is your favorite event?
Brantz: In the past I have said wheelchair rugby - formerly known as Murderball - but I'm very much looking forward to seeing the Australian goalball team take the court for the first time at a Paralympics since 2000.

Q: You will be hosting the Opening Ceremony with Adam Hills. Are you the "straight girl?" What is the key to narrating all the action without being annoying?
Brantz: I think I have been hired as the straight chick! But working with Adam should be great fun and we'll enjoy, hopefully, enhancing the viewing experience for everyone back in Australia. The lessons I am taking from the feedback of the "warm-up opening ceremony" is that less is more; if you have nothing to say, then don't. And at no time should one read from the written brief supplied. I hope in the excitement I'll remember at least one of those points.

Q: Is there enough women's sport on TV?
Brantz: There is never enough women's sport on TV. I hope that this summer, all the women's sport fans tune in for our coverage of the football, basketball, golf, cricket and hockey so we can prove the demand is there.

Q: What can viewers expect from the ABC's coverage this time?
Brantz: Hopefully many, many Gold Medal ceremonies, but let's not speculate on that - we've seen how it can backfire. We will have over 100 hours of coverage and highlights, with a different feel between each program (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/27).

Channel Ten faces pressure "to get a big sporting code over the line in the next year" or face seeing its share of the $2.9B TV ad market and audiences remain static, according to Julian Lee of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Nine and Fox Sport's $1B bid for the TV rights to the rugby league "has ratcheted up the pressure" on Ten to acquire the rights to one of the four key sports up for renegotiation in the next year. Commonwealth Bank Media Analyst Alice Bennett said, "Missing out on the NRL deal is negative for Ten, given our view that premium sport is crucial if Ten is to return to a 28%-plus revenue share." In the next 12 months, rights to cricket, football, V8 Supercars and possibly tennis "are all up for grabs" (SMH, 7/28).

The European Broadcasting Union and the wrestling governing body FILA have signed a media rights deal covering all FILA World and European Wrestling Championships from '13-16. The new contract covers media rights in Europe for seven championships: four European and three World Championships -- there will be no Worlds in '16 due to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics -- with men's and women's Greco-Roman and Freestyle disciplines contested at each event. The agreement also makes the EBU the worldwide distribution partner for all FILA events on different platforms, inside and outside of Europe. The EBU will also assist FILA in media rights sales. FILA and the EBU have had a partnership since '88, but this latest deal will extend that shared history to 28 years (EBU).

German Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen plans to produce a separate game feed for Asian TV channels "to increase the club's marketing potential in that region," according to Mathias Peer of the HANDELSBLATT. Bayer Leverkusen sees Asia as its "most important market for growth." Leverkusen Managing Dir Wolfgang Holzhäuser wants to make his club "more attractive for Chinese and Japanese ad partners." A separate game feed for Bayer's home games seems to be the "ideal solution." The cameras will be in different positions than the ones for German TV and focus on different areas of ad boards that have not been in camera view so far. Holzhäuser's plan is to sell this new ad space in camera view to Asian companies. Holzhäuser said, "Our marketing opportunities in Germany are exhausted in regards to price and space." The production of a separate game feed is "schedule to start after the winter break of the '13-14 season." A representative survey of consulting company Sport+Markt found that "one in eight people in China is interested in Bundesliga football." This means the Bundesliga is dead even with the Italian Serie A and the Spanish La Liga in the favor of Chinese people. Only the EPL is able to attract an even higher interest (HANDELSBLATT, 8/27).